While the invisible carbon emissions coming from our tailpipes are a global concern, it’s the smoggy stuff that affects our health closer to home. To combat smog, the EPA announced new regulations last night that lower the allowable levels of ground-level ozone to 75 parts per billion from 84 parts per billion. EPA Direction Stephen Johnson ignored his 23-member scientific advisory board, which had recommended a level ranging between 60 and 70 parts per billion, a move that will surely add to the ire the director has recently been amassing.
Still, the slightly stricter regulations are good news for low- and no-emissions vehicles. Ozone is the main ingredient in smog. The greenhouse gas O3 is created at ground level when sunlight reacts with volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, both emitted from fossil-fuel burning cars. One way to cut ozone levels is to swap in more electric vehicles.
And this could serve as motivation for local and state governments to create incentives for consumers to buy cleaner vehicles. Knocking a few grand off the price tag of cars Zap’s Zebra of Zenn’s NEV, and even Aptera’s forthcoming three-wheeler, could put electric vehicles and PHEVs within the price range of a far bigger demographic. While first-generation hybrids have been widely adopted by the “eco-elite” there is a huge amount of market potential in selling cheaper, cleaner cars.
Some 345 counties currently violate the new standard, many of them in urban areas, the New York Times reports, citing EPA numbers. Counties found not complying are subject to restrictions on new highways and industries in the form of limited federal funding and permitting.